Mic Check 1,2: Whatever Happened to the M.C.?

Back in the day before the Fat Back Band made a record using rhyme[1], the M.C. or master of ceremonies or mic controller seemed to be nothing more than an ego booster for the DJ, who was the star of the show.

It was the DJ whose mixing and scratching moved the crowd, as the M.C.’s job was to tell everyone how great that particular DJ was and to keep the party hyped with classic party lines like, “Throw your hands in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care!”

Within a couple of years The Sugarhill Gang ripped pages from Grandmaster Caz’s notebook, Melle Mel began a commentary on the South Bronx and the course of hip-hop history was altered, the M.C. moved from hype man to main man and became the mouthpiece of a generation.

From Melle Mel to DJ Run to KRS-One, Rakim, Chuck D., Kool G Rap, LL Cool J, MC Lyte, Slick Rick to the B-I-G D-A-Double D-Y K-A-N-E, the bar was continually raised through the 80’s as brothers with the ill street blues[2] started to put words together reporting live from the streets. It was more than beats to the rhyme[3] for these guys; it was becoming an art form as they wrote in their book of rhymes, all the words past the margin[4] to stake their claim as sole controller of the M.I.C. And we let our tapes rock, ‘til our tapes popped[5] because we needed to be able to go line for line with our favorite M.C.’s as if we were studying for a science test.

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